It’s harvest time, and state and local law enforcement agents are scouring the countryside for marijuana.
Officials took to the ground and the air for the weed-eradication program in Meigs County.
Armed agents stood ready with machetes to cut down Ohio’s No. 1 illegal cash crop.
“It’s a hazardous mission for everyone involved,” said Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent, Dennis Lowe.
Lowe leads the charge against marijuana eradication.
He has a key role, putting his 21 years of experience to the test.
He is the eye in the sky, hovering above the treetops, pinpointing patches of marijuana from the air.
“Primarily, it’s knowing where to look,” Lowe said. “If you know where to look, you’re going to find it.”
Lowe guides ground crews along dusty, heavily rutted back roads and through thick underbrush.
The majority of the marijuana seizures come from smaller plots, anywhere from one to 10 plants spread over a wide area than in just one spot, Lowe said.
And it’s not just about the size.
Many illegal growers are experimenting with hybrids, smaller plants that put out a lot more bang for their buck.
“They’ll actually clone those plants,” Lowe said. “This is much, much different - much stronger marijuana. You’re talking, in some cases, the plants we’ve had tested here, 17 to 20 percent THC content, which is really strong stuff.”
Agents never know what to expect. They recently stumbled upon booby traps near plants in Gallia County.
“They were 12-gague shotgun shells attached to rat traps on a trip line, so when people came into that patch, they would have been shot by the 12-gague slugs,” Lowe said.
Meigs County is a hot spot for marijuana, according to Lowe.
“That’s a lot of marijuana we’re preventing from hitting the streets and potentially ending up in the hands of people that shouldn’t have it,” he said.
The weed eradication program is funded by a $500,000 federal grant.
Agents have seized about 20,000 plants since mid-July.
They will be continuing their mission until mid-October.
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